tranmere Rovers manager Ronnie Moore hoping the return of Andy Robinson and loan signing of Nathan Eccleston can see them bounce back from back-to-back league defeats
TRANMERE hope the positive results from a scan will give Andy Robinson the confidence to find his best form against Preston North End at Prenton Park this afternoon.
Robinson, the most naturally gifted player in Ronnie Moore’s squad, returned to action following a three-game play-off with a hamstring strain in Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Doncaster.
The 32-year-old was in compelling form but also signalled some concerns about feeling the effects of the injury and departed the action after 70 minutes.
Moore said: “Andy had a scan on Wednesday and the scan said he is fine. I think Andy has been worried that the hamstring will go and if that happens he will be out for six weeks for the sake of one week.
“But the physio assures me there is no muscular tear in there. I will be having a word in his ear. He has to grin and bear it.”
Moore signed former Liverpool striker Nathan Eccleston on a month’s loan from Blackpool to bolster his attack for this afternoon but he recognises that few players have the guile and cunning to unlock an opposing defence in the way Robinson does.
He said: “Andy was fantastic on Tuesday, especially in the first half. He brings a bit of calmness to the side. When he is on the ball he is not quick but he has so many tricks. He goes past people and looks after the ball.”
The defeat to Doncaster, Tranmere’s first at home this season and the second reverse in four days, convinced Moore of the need to add an attacking player of pace to his squad. Eccleston fitted the bill.
He is determined not to lose the momentum of the unbeaten 12-game start that lifted Tranmere to the top of the League One table.
They still hold a one-point advantage in pole position today in spite of the defeats to Bournemouth and Doncaster and Moore is satisfied performance levels have not dropped significantly.
Moore said: “The one thing we did not do so well against Doncaster was putting the ball in the back of the net. We had 21 corners and 24 shots yet still lost the game, basically because we went gung-ho after equalising on 87 minutes.
“We got carried away by the crowd and because there is no fear in the side. We’re a young team and the lads thought they could go on and win the game.
“It is a great attitude but sometimes you have to make sure you have your defensive head on as well. You have to know in the back of your mind that everyone in the team can’t fly forward. The lads are learning.”
Moore says he is confident Rovers will finish in the top six if they can match the level of the Doncaster performance through the rest of the season.
He expects Preston to present a similar kind of challenge to Doncaster. “They are a big, strong side,” Moore said. “They are physical but they can also play. They have pace and craft up front. We know it’s going to be another difficult game.”
Preston, a little slow to start following a major upheaval of the squad during the summer, moved into eighth place, nine points behind Tranmere, following a 3-2 win at Scunthorpe in midweek.
Manager Graham Westley hopes Preston take up most of their 2,000-seat allocation for the game. He is keen to wipe away memories of a 2-1 defeat at Prenton Park last March, when his team’s performance let down a large following.
“Last season it was a difficult four or five months,” Westley said. “We got used to watching lacklustre football, performances that didn’t turn into results and it was a really difficult time. The night we visited Tranmere was another ordeal.
“We went ahead and conceded the two goals to lose the game and it was another frustrating and disappointing evening.
“We took a big fan base with us and that fan base has stuck with us through the thin times and we’ve had a couple of better evenings away from home, at Doncaster and Scunthorpe, and we gave them a decent day out at Bury. I am sure they’ll be there in their number.
“The more fans you have with you, there is more of the sense you are taking an army to town and the bigger your army, the stronger your force, so we go there buoyed by the win the other night, but also buoyed by what we’ve done this season so far. The lads are under no illusions that I am pleased with the efforts they have put in. I don’t think it’s an easy task they’ve had and they’ve acquitted themselves well and are getting stronger.”